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My cat is a two-year-old Maine Coon. He's very lean and in good health.

He has all-day free access to his dry food and he eats a small quantity a few times a day. As everything is going well I don't try to keep track of how much he's eating. I just know that everyday I have to add some fresh dry pellets.

However our other cat got sick at some point and the only we found to have him take his medications was to mix it with wet food. We then allowed the Maine Coon to have some as well.

Now it has become a habit and both cats get some (about 80 grams) of wet food every day. They seem to really enjoy it and they will make sure to remind us if we are late !

So the question is: Should my cat be allowed some wet food every day? (potential disadvantages to this, in term of health or unwanted interaction between the two foods?)

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7 Answers 7

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Well first, bear in mind that a cats natural diet is carnivorous and that type of diet is seldom dried pellets. :)

In general, dry and wet food options are, these days, quite on par in terms of nutritional quality. In the past, there could be complications from some varieties of foods containing high quantities of ash that could lead to kidney failure (we lost a cat as a consequence of that), but good quality food sources these days have removed that risk. In any event, why you might want to feed wet foods:

  1. Closer to their natural foods.
  2. Provides a source of moisture. Cats are often light drinkers and many will get their moisture only from food.
  3. Allows you to control the food volume better to avoid overeating.

Why you might want to feed dry foods:

  1. Convenient, allows the cat to graze as desired.
  2. Dental health, crunchy bits gives some teeth cleaning benefits.

I've found no evidence to suggest that there's any adverse issues with feeding both forms of food to your cats as a part of a regular diet and it can be recommended (link) in some cases. In general, assuming that they're not overeating and becoming obese, you can get the benefits of both forms of food if the cats are happy to eat them.

I would, however, make every effort to prevent sharing of food if you're still medicating. As with humans, sharing meds is not a good thing to be doing or to allow to happen.

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Thanks, that's useful and I'll stop feeling unsure about it. So the only question is to find good/high quality food in both cases, which is another topic. About sharing: we were giving the other cat the food to stop him from trying to steal the food (with pills) of the other cat. –  Cedric H. Mar 10 at 16:49
    
There is a lot of great information here and below. No one mentioned BPA's in canned food though: [link] cats.about.com/od/healthconcerns/a/… . Even with the possibility of BPAs being really bad I would still say feed your cat both wet and dry. I think there are some BPA-free brands even. –  Beo Apr 9 at 22:09
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Unfortunately, have no external sources, but my father is a veterinarian and my mother is a pet dietary consultant. At home, we have 7 cats, all of which are fed purely wet food. We used to feed them dry food, but while on such a diet, they seemed to be somewhat prone to diarrhea. When it comes to your average, low quality pet food, dry food and wet food are about the same nutritionally. However, when it comes to higher quality pet food, wet food can actually be healthier, due to being more fresher comparatively.

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Welcome to pets.stackexchange ! Maybe you could add info on what kind of wet/dry food you feed your cats ? –  Cedric H. Mar 10 at 19:13
    
Of course, the food that we use is Tikicat by petropics. It's a bit hard to find a store that sells it, but luckily, they have a store lookup on their site here: petropics.com/locator/index.php In addition, with wet cat food, it doesn't hurt to vary what flavor of food you feed your cat, since you don't have to buy a giant bag. Cats can actually be quite picky eaters at times, so by varying the type of food and ingredients, it makes it less likely your cat will stop eating it. –  Waterseas Mar 10 at 20:50
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Keep in mind, if you are considering switching to wet food, your cost will almost certainly go up due to the typical inability to buy in bulk like one can with dry food. –  Waterseas Mar 10 at 20:52
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You already have some good answers here, I just wanted to add a bit more info based on the research I did before getting my first cat.

The information I found indicated that a wet food diet was usually more beneficial than a dry food diet.

  • Wet food is generally subjected to less heat during processing and thus suffers less nutrient and protein degradation.
  • It has a much higher moisture content. Cats have a low thirst drive in general and many cats can end up with chronic low-level dehydration when fed exclusively dry food.
  • Along with the decreased risk of dehydration, the increased moisture content also makes things like urinary tract infections less likely.
  • When dry matter/moisture content is corrected for, wet food often comes out ahead nutritionally (as far as fat and protein and the like are concerned).
  • Wet foods tend to have far fewer "fillers" in them since they don't have to be formed into pellets.
  • Wet food tends to be closer in composition to a cat's "natural" diet. Cats haven't been changed by domestication nearly as much as some other animals (such as dogs) and their digestive tract and dietary needs are still much the same as their wild counterparts.
  • Cats who have issues with obesity often do better on a wet food diet than a dry food diet. Wet food is often thought of as rich and decadent, but a good (or even average) quality wet food will actually provide better nutrition with fewer fillers than your average dry food. This combined with the fact that wet food feedings are normally more regulated than dry food (which is often offered on a "free feed" basis) means that obese cats may actually slim down with a switch to wet food.

There can be drawbacks to feeding wet food, but from the information I found, these are more often financial than physical.

  • Dry food is generally cheaper than wet food.
  • Many people find dry food to be more convenient.
  • Dry food is often touted as being beneficial to oral health. However, there doesn't seem to be any data to actually back this up. At best, it seems it is no worse for the teeth than wet food.
  • Offering food on a "free feed" basis allows cats to regulate their own food intake and eat according to their appetites. Free feeding is generally not practical with wet food.

Personally, I have chosen to feed a mix of wet and dry food for my cats. They get a measured portion of wet food twice a day and have dry food available on a "free feed" basis the rest of the time. This seems to work well for me and my cats. Different cats may have different health concerns and specific dietary needs. However, in the general case, I believe that wet food as part or all of a cat's diet is beneficial overall.

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Good answer, but I wouldn't say there isn't any data on the affects of wet/dry food on oral health. There's a ton of excerpts from research papers provided at this site: littlebigcat.com/health/does-dry-food-clean-the-teeth –  Zaralynda Mar 17 at 0:41
    
Alright, thanks. I'll edit to correct. I didn't remember finding any really good evidence one way or the other, but I also did my research several years ago. –  symbol Mar 17 at 0:48
    
Excellent answer! Definitely more expansive than my own. –  Waterseas Mar 27 at 22:03
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I feed my cats a roughly 50/50 diet of wet and dry.

Wet: cats have a weak thirst drive and tend not to drink enough water. Wet food has a higher water content, not being dry. So you are sneaking more water into their diet which is good. Their stomachs also benefit from the raw meat: my DVM explained it to me but I do not remember all the science behind it, just that she highly recommended at least 50% of my cats' diet is wet food.

Dry: I am no scientist but the way I understand it is that dry food is chunky and help push hair through the digestive system, where wet food kind of slides by. End rest: fewer hairballs.

Regardless, a fully wet or dry diet will not really be bad for your cat either way as long as you pick a quality food. A good rule of thumb is no more than one of the top five ingredients should not be protein.

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Just a slight correction - there's no raw meat in commercial wet foods. They're all cooked. Folks who feed raw are making cat food in their kitchens. BUT you're right about cats having a weak thirst drive! –  Zaralynda Mar 13 at 15:12
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I came across a following opinion on one of the cat lover sites (I cannot find the link now, it is in different language anyway):

Cats originally lived in the desert. There were not used to drink much water (there were no many sources of it). They gained fluid by eating the whole prey, including blood. Now when they live at our houses they are still not used to drink as much water as they should, so we should at least give them wet food and also encourage them to drink (there are many funny ways to do this).

This is also the reason why cats tend to have serious bladder and kidney problems.

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The only good thing about dry food is that it can help clean the teeth and make relatively less plaque/tartar, otherwise wet food is better for them for all the reasons stated several times so far.

Wet food has more water content, which can help if cats choose not to drink as much as they should. Wet food has fewer preservatives, typically fewer fillers, lower carbs, less magnesium / phosphorous, and so on.

I'd pick a wet food first on caloric balance (off the top of my head I think it should be approximately >60%fat, >30% protine, <=5% carbs) you can use some independent test source for that (I used this page for information. there may be better sources of info out there).

After the caloric balance I'd pick one relatively low in phosphorous. I'd want the food to be as much meat and as little vegetable as possible, bird or red meat is fine, fish is bad (can cause urinary tract problems). If it says "meat by products": that is not necessarily good or bad, if it is simply cuts of meat people don't like (but still meat and not too processed) that's fine, if it is something like "pink slime" (meat that has been extensively reprocessed mechanically and chemically) I'd want to avoid that.

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My cat has lost a number of teeth - but refuses to go on a solely wet food diet.

The vet recommended a rubber thimble tooth brush with some cat toothpaste!

Using this removes the issue with the wet food being bad for his teeth.

Depends though on whether your cat will allow you to brush his teeth!!

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